Palm trees in hurricanes

Here’s a thought: The most important things in life that we ever choose, we choose by surrendering to them; accepting them; and allowing them to invite us to see things differently.

Like a palm tree bends to a hurricane and remains standing and unharmed (save perhaps for a few dead fronds that fall away) while tougher trees that refuse to bend break and are torn up. We must bend to circumstances beyond our control and let good things happen as well as bad things.

As long as we can do nothing to make it better, we may as well let it change us. In a good way. In fact, usually good things are the ones beyond our control. Even when it looks like a storm.


Moving on

So we’ve all heard some form of the phrase “You need to move on.” People in movies and shows say it as a quip, never really expecting the person to take their advice. But what does it actually look like to move on?

I present for your consideration Ella from the 2015 Cinderella, she’s a really good person. Kind and courageous. Enduring a lot of mistreatment with never a harsh word. Her Stepmother, who hates her for no reason of her own except that she exists (the most deadly type of hatred,) keeps doing cruel things to her out of jealousy. At the end of the story Ella is finally found and rescued by her Prince. She is about to leave this house and the stepfamily who treat her worse than a dog. She could gloat, I bet a lot of us would have a hard time not doing that, but instead Ella looks back at her Stepmother who is sinking down on the stairs in defeat. Seeing her Ella seems to realize that no matter what good might happen to her the Stepmother will still be miserable because she has chosen to be. So Ella, perhaps seeing a hint of guilt in her expression, says simply “I forgive you.” Then she walks out the door.

If you forgive someone from your heart, you no longer harbor ill feelings for them. You can be glad when they do well, and sorry when they suffer. (This may sound impossible, if so you’re not there yet, but don’t give up we’re all on the journey all the time.) But until you move on, the person still holds power over you. You still may desire their approval. Or you may be overly sensitive to their words. It’s taken me ages to realize that until I move on, I will still base my self worth on what other people think of me. Think of a person who you have a rocky relationship with: When they’re around can’t you just feel what they’re thinking about you? Can’t you tell their opinion of you deep down even when they seem okay with you? Well, there’s a strong chance you’re imagining it. But sometimes it really is the case. Either way the effect on you is to measure yourself by what they think of you.

I’m not going to be silly and say that it’s stupid to measure yourself by people’s opinions. It’s quite natural actually, and sometimes it’s helpful because we tend to mirror each other’s attitudes. If that is the case we need to alter our behavior before we worry about theirs. But, there are times when we honestly have tried to be kind to the person in question. And sometimes they know it and other times they never realize it. (Like the Stepsisters.) Either way it can be discouraging. And they will name us things like Cinderella (I read once that it means “ash baby.”) People’s opinions can have value. But only as much as you give them. If you don’t trust the judgment of the person then they shouldn’t give you your name–which is your identity.

When your realize that you’re wrapping your identity in someone else’s judgment, then it’s time to move on. Forgive them as many times as necessary, but stop pondering what they say about you, stop thinking about the past except when you have to, stop wearing their label.

Likely they never meant to label you, or they thought the label was harmless; but even if they did it purposely, let it go.

At the moment all I know about Moving On is that it’s a choice like most things are. There’s a time to every purpose under heaven. We have to walk away form the pain if we would move forward into the joy. I don’t mean we should be indifferent to people. But that we should recognize that they don’t always get us right. So, moving on…

Letting it go-from another angle.

Here’s a summary of my last two big posts.

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind…let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification (building up,) that it may impart grace to the hearers …Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (loud quarrelling,) and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:23-32.

Forgiving is hard. Yet, I wonder why? We all make mistakes and so why are we so hard on each other for making them? Maybe we want to see a fairness in others that we don’t possess in ourselves.

Let me be clear; by forgiving I don’t mean letting people get away with serious wrong doing. Nor do I mean living in a sort of denial that the damage other people’s words do to you, is not that bad. It is actually much worse than most of us know. Forgiveness is actually acknowledging they did wrong and letting it go. In the words of Stasi Eldredge “It was wrong, very wrong, and I release you.”

Forgiveness is actually more for us than the offenders. I did a little research on this (all credit for my scientific facts goes to Dr. Caroline Leaf and her discoveries)and I found out that when you don’t forgive there is a link between you and that person. Every negative thought they have about you, even from 10,000 miles away, affects you as much as if they were sitting right in front of you. This is science. I’m not making this up. Emotionally most of us have probably heard about the necessity of forgiveness. When you hold on to the actions of another, you build them into your brain. I don’t mean in a mind control sense. But when you hate someone you obsess over them, you think of them and the things they’ve said and done to you; if it’s someone close to you then you struggle with not having their approval on your life even as you despise their opinion. You feel indifferent to their pain and even glad when they suffer. You say you’ll forget them but you can’t, because you can’t let what they’ve done go. If you don’t remember who will? It won’t matter to anyone. And that is what scares us, that our pain won’t make a difference in anything. That we ourselves don’t matter. These people who hurt us were right about us then. The emotional and mental damage this does to us couldn’t be fully disclosed if we took hours and hours to talk about it. To not forgive is to agree with the people who hurt us and to sink to their level at the same time.

That is why the first step toward forgiving is admitting it was wrong and you were damaged. A lot of people don’t get this far. They won’t admit their weakness. Or in some cases they will only admit their weakness but never that they can overcome it. They wallow in their pain all their lives. I mentioned Elsa of Frozen in my last article. I want to quote one of her lines in her infamous song: “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see; be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel. Don’t let them know.” And we all have said this to ourselves. Keep it together. Don’t let them get to  you. Show them. But it doesn’t work does it? We continue to get angry whenever someone hits a sore place in our hearts. Reread my opening quote. Doesn’t un-forgiveness cause all those things?

So, if you are willing to take step one and admit you have been hurt–bad (And someone may be thinking “I can so do that.” Well hold on.) What is step two? It varies. It may involve crying your heart out. Grieving the wound the Eldredges call it. (I highly recommend their books Wild at Heart or Captivating for more detail on this very important part.) In my own journey of forgiving, I cried several times; I shared my pain with trusted people–but don’t do it with the person who hurt you, that was always a disaster–I prayed about it. To which I attribute all progress I made. Pain can be scary because it is so deep. Sometimes we wish we’d left it alone in apathy and numbness. But really that’s even more frightening.

After sadness, or sometimes before it, will come anger. More anger. And fear. Here we face yet another choice, we can press on, releasing the anger and fear, or we can let it drive us back. At this point you will not feel like forgiving, nor will you feel like the person deserves it, it will be purely a choice. I suggest writing it down. Saying it. “I choose to forgive (insert their name)”

Let me return to science. If you begin to do this, you will get this person out of your head. You’ll be able to live your life without them being a weight on you psyche. It won’t happen all at once, but it’ll gradually lift off. Well, it depends. If it is merely an injustice, then one stroke or two might take care of it. If it is an emotional scar, then you will need to repeatedly make the choice until it is finished because the parts of your brain it has damaged will take time to heal. One thought at a time.

Jesus warned us that if we do not forgive our brother ( which means our fellow man) from our heart, our heavenly father will not forgive us, but blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy. George MacDonald speculated that the act of unforgiveness does not make God stop being merciful, but rather makes us unable to receive mercy. I think the idea has merit. You see, you tend to reciprocate the behavior of people you dislike, and if you can’t forgive them when they do something hurtful, then you can’t forgive yourself or believe God will if you make the same mistake. Because we demand justice, we force it upon ourselves. Jesus also warned us of this saying “judge not lest you be judged” and by the same measure we use it will be measured back to us. You may say “If God cared He would not have let it happen.” But look at what you are saying. If you demand justice from God it is only fair He judge you by the same standard as the other person. You may even protest that you have the right to act this way because they hurt you, but depend upon it, someone hurt them too. So you have put both yourself and them in the dock. Wouldn’t a fair God tell you not to accuse them when you have done the same thing? Or other things just as bad.

But if we show Mercy, God will forget our own sins, and we will be blessed for rising above our troubles. Jesus gave us one more piece of advice on this subject. Pray for those who mistreat you. If you do this, you will not only get them out of you head, but you will change the atmosphere around you, and prevent them from harming you anymore. In Elsa’s words “I don’t care, what they’re going to say. Let the storm rage on.” In my next article I will talk about recovery and healing, the next step.

Until then, I hope you found this helpful–Natasha.

Recovering from backlash

“You can be the outcast and be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love; or you can start speaking up. Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way the words do when they settle underneath your skin. Kept on the inside, with no sunlight ,sometimes the shadow wins. I wonder what would happen if you…”

This is really a part two of my last post on words, but today I’m addressing what to do when someone else is not careful with their words to us.

This songwriter had a clue. Somebody’s lack of love can backlash into hurt, insecurity, and bitterness. But, it does not have to. There is an or. This singer also provides us with the reason the shadow wins sometimes. Trapping these words on the inside with no light makes them ferment and rot away the good stuff. We call it internalizing. Permit me to read into these lyrics a bit more than perhaps they meant. Sunlight is natural, strong, and healthy. It warms and gives life to the earth. When we shut it out we weaken and are easily broken and depressed. We turn pale. So it is with bad words. If they stay inside us, and we shine no reality (or truth to be specific) on them, they’ll make us unhealthy. In mind and body. It’s scientific fact. Maybe you even know someone the shadow won with. I have a friend who’s boyfriend committed suicide (I think I’ve mentioned it before) he was already in a mental hospital I believe. Not a bad guy; we have hope he is in a better place. But to be that depressed. Nowadays it’s not difficult to be depressed. Poor nutrition is part of it. Also psychotropic drugs (prescribed for mental disorders) damage the brain more. They are directly related to high school shootings. These disorder come from thinking toxic words over and over again. (Look up Dr. Caroline Leaf for more on this subject.) You see, you literally make the words a part of you. The good news is this can be completely reversed and rebuilt. Shine sunlight on these thoughts and expose them for what they are. Then there’s the next step:

“Everybody’s been there; everybody’s been stared down by the enemy.  Falling for the fear; done some disappearing; bow down to the mighty. Don’t run. Stop holding your tongue. Maybe there’s a way out of this cage where you live; maybe one of these days you can let the light in–and show me how big your brave is!”

May I quote Granpabby (of course I can, this is my blog): “Fear will be your enemy.” It will. It is.

F.D. Roosevelt said this in his inaugural address: “Nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Fear stares us down every time we try to step out of our comfort zone. (READ: cage.) Fear is called an instinct, but to so many of us it takes the shape of words.

“What will they think?”

“What if I fail?”

“If only there wasn’t this factor.”

“I wish I could, but I know I can’t.”

“I couldn’t handle it.”

This might happen.”

Fear leaves rationality far behind once we believe these words. Fear seems mighty; I know better than anyone. Fear is a cage you can see, and the door is open. The sad thing is, fear keeps you in anyway. But even fearing fear is still being  afraid. We can’t even have this fear if we want out. So how to kick it? (For fear is the most powerful of addictions.) I know how hard this is. But stare it back. Don’t run. And stop holding your tongue. Say the truth; say what you believe. Or what you want to believe. (Note: If this doesn’t work you probably believe the wrong thing.) Fear is beaten back with the light of truth. For me this is always found in the name of Jesus. I cannot see any other way. I’m told even self-talk helps. It didn’t help me much, but if you aren’t in as deep as I was it will likely work for you.

Frozen really told the world the truth. Perfect love casts out fear. Granpabby is an example of those people who’ll tell you your problem but never how to solve it. Elsa gave up trying. Anna wouldn’t, and that was the difference. I’m glad at the end of the film Elsa let the light in. And love enables us to do it. Love is what takes away the hurt of words because love transcends words. It may be the only thing that can. Someone can say in love what they could never say flatly without hurting you. Love motivates us to be considerate. (True love. I know sometimes natural love does not. If you know this too, believe me I feel for you.) Love makes courage, but it also takes courage. God will pour it into you, but it’s your choice to let it out. (This is how Elsa spread Summer back over Arindelle by lifting off the fear.) So, in the words of the song, show how big your brave is. If you are brave enough to face your problems, you are brave enough to conquer them, whether you feel it our not. It is a choice. Only you can hold yourself in that cage.

“Ever since your history of silence, won’t do you any good. Didn’t think it would.”

I warn you, silence on your part is not safe. Only some dangers look safer than others to us. Locking yourself in a castle of ice (even if it is a castle) is no safer than wandering a frozen lake in a storm.  A castle just looks safer. Can I reassure you God is on your side the minute you try to do the right thing? You may not believe this, but it is so. Even when you’re yelling at Him for being unfair, He is on your side if you’re doing it to some purpose. (I am not saying that’s okay by the way, only that it’s better than defiance.) Though I think He may be amused at our lack of understanding because I’ve had my moments of that, and it always turns out I was missing something. Anyway, my point is that telling someone our fears is a huge step towards defeating them, as is telling the fear off. And praying about it.

“Let your words be anything but empty. Why don’t you tell him the truth.”

Once you’ve faced your own enemy it’s time to help other people face theirs. I hope you’ve had help; if you haven’t, find it. But after that be the help. Be what you wish you’d had sooner. There is one more ingredient to healing, but I’ll cover it in the next post.

Honestly, I want to see you be brave. And so do so many others you don’t know about. So word up folks. (Word Girl reference.) Hope you enjoyed–Natasha.

Happy New Year

Yeah, I didn’t do a Christmas post because I figured there’s plenty of those out there. But here’s a happy new year from Natasha.

Prospero ano y felicidad. (Happy and prosperous year.)

May it be a year of grace and new beginnings and the fulfillments of dreams. Everything we hope for in a new year.